I'll start from the very beginning because 1) I've been dying to tell this story, and 2) years from now, when I only remember the good parts of living in Italy, I want to remember this.
Way before we ever stepped foot in Italy, we were already searching for apartments online through the Italian rental websites such as immobiliare.it. We had a budget, we researched the neighborhood we wanted to live in, and we knew the priorities we had for our perfect home. For Jaime, this was simple: the square footage had to come close to that of our Ohio home since we had most of our furniture being shipped overseas, it had to have a car space, be close to his job, and below our budget of course. For me....I expected more. I wanted a terrace, it had to accept dogs of course, a nice kitchen with no weird tiling, nice bathrooms, and a layout that made sense.
I saw everything under the sun online. An apartment with a good size but every single wall in it paint sa neon yellow, a kitchen with orange cabinets, orange walls, orange everything, bathrooms that were simply horrendous...I mean, fine, I don't plan to live here forever, but one still has to be picky. Throughout all this, it just never occurred to us that our problems would lie not in our picky-ness, but in other factors. After all, I frankly had never been house-searching before and Jaime moved to Ohio one day and had signed a lease the next.
So we arrived in Rome and that first week went to see about 3 apartments. The first one (Apartment A) was well below our budget but small and awkward. The kitchen was on one side of the house, literally, and the dining room in the other. Well, actually there was no dining room per se, you just had to stick it in the living room. It also had this weird tiny room meant to be like a utility room, but with no actual space or outlets or anything to put a washer or dryer.
Then we saw two apartments which I just knew would be our future apartment. I had seen the pictures, fallen in love, and they were even more gorgeous in person. Apartment B had an amazing modern kitchen with an island and great storage space (unheard of in Italy, basically). The house had the space we needed, a terrace, beautiful hardwood floors and windows, and a WALK-IN CLOSET. Not just any walk-in closet, but the ones you only see in movies. Hardwood shelves, shoe wall, the whole nine yards. The catch: no parking space and right at the cusp of our budget. Truthfully, I knew it was perfect and once Jaime fell in love with it too, I figured I might be able to sell him on this apartment.
Then we saw Apartment C. I also knew this one was gorgeous but I was surprised at how much I loved it. It was like a mini-castle. Hardwood floors and panels, a terrace, a built-in wardrobe in a vintage French style, crystal chandeliers, a parking space, I was SOLD. Also, on the upper range of our budget.
We saw a few more apartments, but both of us had our sights set on Apartment B or C (Jaime did confess that had he been here alone, he would have chosen Apartment A just to be done with it). Regardless, we expected to be moved in by October 1st, and the realtors had told us to expect about two weeks to have the contracts ironed out and signed. So on the 15th of September or so, we went for Apartment C. We started meeting and exchanging emails with the realtor, trying to bargain a few hundred bucks off the rental price since we also had to pay condominium fees. Then the issue started. Long story short, the owner wanted us to pay a ridiculous amount of money in deposits up front, like 6 to 9 months, and at that rate Jaime said to hell with the whole thing.
We figured no problem, we have a plan B. Jaime was hesitant. While this was my dream come true, he wasn't too comfortable with the price and the owner refused to lower even one penny off the rental price. Then when we started tackling the minute details of the contract, the owner basically did not want to negotiate absolutely anything. He basically wanted to rent the apartment to us for 24 months exactly, we had to pay any maintenance fees (which I've learned is pretty standard in Italy), and in case of theft or burglary we had to assume the costs of all those beautiful custom wood doors and windows. Then the kicker came when he refused to allow pets, even though the first thing we had asked the realtor was whether pets were allowed.
At this point, Jaime was nearing his breaking point. He was very firm with the realtor. We paid realtor fees, so the realtor worked for us, so she had to fight for us. It got a little crazy, then it seemed like it would work out, to the point that we had dates to sign the contract, and then it fell through.
The panic started settling in. We were basically at square one, we had wasted a bunch of time with two apartments that didn't work out, it was almost mid-October, we were tired of moving and being in sucky apartments...well, you can imagine there was quite a few tears on my part and a few new gray hairs on Jaime's part.
So our search continued, Jaime found a plausible apartment. I didn't personally like it, but I was getting so desperate that it was starting to look like a dream home. Then I found a little diamond in the rough. It was on exactly the same street as my beloved Apartment B, and promising pictures. We set up a date to see the apartment and I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't a dream come true, but it would do. It had an actual designated dining room, a huge living room, a kitchen I could live with, great lighting throughout, and an office space for Jaime. Better yet, it was below our budget. So, even though I wasn't in love, we took the plunge. The owner turned out to be a really nice, rational woman and with relatively little hassle and time we were able to come to an agreement and sign the contract. The only downside is we would have to wait until the 15th of November for the current tenants to move out and us to move in.
When the day came and we got our keys, we were prepared for any hurdles that Italy would throw our way. I had read and heard of hundreds of horror stories regarding internet, electricity, cable company issues and we expected that while now we were no longer looking for a roof over our heads, there would be a thousand new problems sprouting in its place. But everything happened relatively effortlessly. The previous tenant helped us change the electricity and gas bills to our name, the movers came and our stuff was all present, accounted for, and mostly in one piece, and we had internet the following week.
|Coffee for the movers! The coffee place lent me the tray to take home.|
|Here you see them moving the car. When in Rome!|
For the sake of length, I will stop here and leave some of the...funner (by that you know I mean nothing good) things that has happened for another post. Ci vediamo!
|Arya being a good girl while the movers were doing their thing.|